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Virgin Atlantic’s has brought back the best points sale that we’ve ever seen it run and that means that for the next few weeks, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club members can buy points from 0.89 pence each (UK accounts) or from 1.48 cents each (US accounts).
There are 5 tiers to the latest Virgin Atlantic points sale and this is what they look like:
- Buy 1,000 – 4,000 points and get no bonus
- Buy 5,000 – 24,000 points and get a 20% bonus
- Buy 25,000 – 69,000 points and get a 30% bonus
- Buy 70,000 – 124,000 points and get a 50% bonus
- Buy 125,000 – 200,000 points and get a 70% bonus
- Purchases must be made by 23:59 GMT 31st March 2023
- A member can purchase a total of 100,000 points each calendar year. Between 7th March and 23:59 GMT 31st March 2023, the limit has been increased to 200,000.
- Members will have the right to cancel any purchases of points for up to 14 days after the date of purchase provided that none of the purchased points have been redeemed. If any of the purchased points have been redeemed, the member will not be entitled to a refund for any of the purchased points including those that have not been redeemed.
- Every purchase comes with a one-off £15/$22 transaction fee.
Full terms and conditions can be found via this link.
As far as UK Virgin Atlantic Flying Club accounts go this is what you’ll need to know:
Because Virgin Atlantic adds a £15 ‘handling fee’ to every transaction the cost per point will vary depending on the bonus on offer and the number of points that you’re buying, but, importantly in this sale, the cost/point when you buy 125,000 points is almost exactly the same as the cost/point when you buy the full 200,000 points so there’s no need to buy the maximum number of points on offer to get a great deal.
If you were to buy the maximum number of points this sale allows you to buy it would cost £3,015 and you would net 340,000 points:
340,000 points at a cost of £3,015 comes out to a cost/point of ~0.89 pence
Based on the sales that we’ve seen in the past (my UK account doesn’t show US pricing), Flying Club members whose accounts are registered to a US address can buy points from between 1.48 cents each.
As you can see, buying Virgin points from a UK-based account is considerably cheaper than buying them from a US-based account (that’s why I keep my account based in the UK) but even at 1.48 cents/point, this sale is still the best that we’ve seen Virgin Atlantic offer to its US members.
Is it worth buying points in this sale?
If you don’t have a plan for how to use the points you shouldn’t be buying points at all – stockpiling points in the hope of using them down the line is a bad idea as you never know when a loyalty program will devalue its offering (a point that’s well illustrated by the fact that Virgin Atlantic has just increased the cost of ANA First Class awards without notice).
Also, and this really shouldn’t need saying but I’ll say it anyway, please don’t buy any points before checking that the awards that you’d like to book are actually available. Virgin points are best used for a few niche redemptions so if your Plan A isn’t an option, you may struggle to use the points you buy effectively and economically.
Personally, I don’t like using Virgin Atlantic points for travel on Virgin Atlantic (with one exception) because of the high surcharges that the airline chooses to add to award bookings, but I love using them for premium cabin awards on ANA.
ANA now has a great Business Class product (the Room) and even though I have yet to try out it out, I’m pretty sure that it’s the best Business Class seat in the world. Yes, it’s probably better than the Qatar Airways Qsuite (review).
So how do you use Virgin Atlantic points to book such a great product? It’s easy.
The Virgin Atlantic ANA award chart is a region-based chart and looks like this:
Note: This is the award chart as of today, 7 March 2023 and shows the increased cost of ANA First Class Awards – a devaluation that Virgin Atlantic didn’t bother announcing to anyone.
The points costs shown are for round-trip travel – divide by two for one-way pricing (open-jaw itineraries are permitted too).
These are the highlights in this award chart:
- Europe to Tokyo: 95,000 points/170,000 points (Business Class/First Class)
- New York to Tokyo: 95,000 points/170,000 points
- Los Angeles to Tokyo: 90,000 points/145,000 points
The current Virgin Atlantic sale allows you to buy enough points for any of these awards and this is how much they will cost, assuming you buy points in this sale at 0.89 pence each (UK) or $0.0148 (USA).
Business Class Fares (UK pricing/USA pricing)
- Europe to Tokyo: ~£846/$1,406 + taxes & fees
- New York to Tokyo: ~£846/$1,406 + taxes & fees
- Los Angeles to Tokyo: £801/$1,332 + taxes & fees
First Class Fares (UK pricing/USA pricing)
- Europe to Tokyo: £1,513/$2,515 + taxes & fees
- New York to Tokyo: £1,513/$2,516 + taxes & fees
- Los Angeles to Tokyo: £1,291/$2,146 + taxes & fees
If you’re buying Virgin Atlantic points in GBP, these Business Class fares are staggeringly good (even though the surcharges have increased in the past year), and even if you’re forced to suffer the higher USD pricing, it’s hard to think of many better Business Class deals in the miles and points world.
When you consider that it costs 135,000 – 155,000 Flying Club points to fly round trip between the West Coast and Europe in Business Class on Virgin Atlantic or Delta these ANA awards look amazing.
Sadly, it’s not all good news. There’s a downside to Virgin using a region-based award chart for ANA redemptions.
Per Virgin Atlantic:
Take New York – Japan – South Korea in Business Class as an example. To book this with Virgin Flying Club points will take two award bookings:
First, you have to book the New York – Japan segments for 95,000 points and then you have to book the Japan – South Korea segments for a further 35,000 points.
The total round-trip cost is 130,000 points and that’s not such a great deal anymore – the best deals to be had are on non-stop routings.
Searching for & booking ANA awards
You can’t book or search for ANA awards via Virgin Atlantic’s website so you have to look to other Star Alliance airline sites for help… but don’t buy any points until you’ve checked that awards are actually available for the dates you can fly.
I find ANA’s website a bit clunky, so my go-to sites are Aeroplan or United.com which are both easy to use and quite reliable when it comes to showing true award availability.
Once you’ve found an award you’d like to book you’ll have to call up your local Virgin Atlantic reservations line where the agents should be able to book your chosen itinerary.
Using Virgin Points for Delta bookings
Virgin Atlantic Points can also be put to good use when booking Delta Business Class awards that don’t include flights to/from the UK.
Up until 31 December 2020, Virgin Atlantic had just one award chart for all Delta awards that did not include flights to/from the UK. From 1 January 2021, that award chart now only applies to Delta awards for non-stop itineraries between the United States and Europe (excluding the UK).
This award chart represents one of the few sweet spots in the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club program as there are no carrier-imposed surcharges if you originate in the United States and are not traveling to the UK.
50,000 points purchased in this sale would cost ~ £445/$740 (UK pricing/USA pricing) and that’s an amazing deal for a one-way transatlantic Business Class award.
Virgin Atlantic sells its points through Points.com so there’s no scope to earn a travel/flight/airline bonus by using a credit card that offers bonus points for shopping in one of those categories.
What this means is that this is a good opportunity to use a credit card on which you’re working towards a welcome bonus (like the bonus being offered by the Citi Premier® Card right now) or to use the excellent Chase Freedom Unlimited® Credit Card (review) which will earn you 1.5% cash back (or 1.5 points/dollar).
Virgin Atlantic is now selling points with bonuses as high as 70%. This sees UK-based Flying Club accounts able to buy points from 0.89 pence each and US-based Flying Club accounts able to buy points from 1.48 cents each.
If you’re considering buying points to book flights on Virgin Atlantic, the value probably still isn’t quite there, but if you’re considering an ANA Business Class booking or a Business Class award on a Delta-operated transatlantic flight that doesn’t touch the UK, this sale could offer truly excellent value.